On Tuesday, August 21st at 3:00 PM, Senate Democrats will hold a hearing titled, “America Speaks Out: The Urgent Need to Tackle Health Care Costs and Prescription Drug Prices.” The Senators will hear from Americans who have struggled with the high cost of prescription drugs, including the mother of diabetic young man who died because he could not afford insulin and an 80-year old retiree who cannot afford his Parkinson’s medication.
Nicole Smith-Holt – Richfield, MN: Nicole is a Minnesota state employee and a mother of four children from a suburb of Minneapolis, MN. One of her sons, Alec, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 24. When he turned 26, Alec was no longer eligible to remain on the family’s insurance plan and soon discovered, when he went to pick up his diabetic supplies and insulin, that his copay would be $1,300. Alec tried to ration the insulin he did have until his next paycheck, but was found dead in his apartment as a result of diabetic ketoacidosis. Her testimony may be found here.
Stahis Panagides – Bethesda, MD: Stahis is an 80-year-old retiree who lives with his wife in Maryland. Three years ago, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. His neurologist recommended a new course of treatment, but when he found out that it would cost more than $400 per month, even with a supplemental Medicare plan, he had to refuse taking it. Though his disease is being treated with alternative therapies, Stahis was shocked that even with his coverage, he could not afford his medication. His testimony may be found here.
John Glaser – Alexandria, VA: John is a retired social worker who worked for 18 years as a grassroots organizer with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. John is a current Medicare beneficiary and has been enrolled in the program for the past 14 years. His annual prescription drug costs have been in the thousands of dollars. His testimony may be found here.
Marques Jones – Richmond, VA: Marques was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2008 and takes a drug that costs about $75,000 annually. Despite having robust insurance coverage, Marques’s annual out-of-pocket spending on drug co-pays and insurance premiums for his family of five is very high. This has led Marques to become a vocal advocate for those who also suffer from chronic illness. His testimony may be found here.
Leigh Purvis – Director, Health Services Research, AARP Public Policy Institute: Leigh Purvis is the Director of Health Services Research in AARP’s Public Policy Institute. She is a recognized expert on prescription drug issues and coauthor of AARP Public Policy Institute’s annual Rx Price Watch reports, which track price trends for prescription drugs widely used by older Americans. Her testimony may be found here.
On Thursday, August 16th at 10:00 AM, Senate Democrats will hold a hearing titled, “America Speaks Out: Protecting Care for Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions.” The Senators will hear testimony from Americans with pre-existing conditions who would be hurt by Republican efforts to expand junk insurance plans and take away their health coverage.
Elena Hung – Silver Spring, MD: Elena is the president and co-founder of the Little Lobbyists. Her daughter, Xiomara, was born with complex medical needs and has required extensive medical care throughout her life, including a tracheostomy, ventilator, and feeding tube. For Elena’s family, protections for children with pre-existing conditions, prohibitions against lifetime caps, and Medicaid are critical to ensuring Xiomara’s care. Her testimony can be found here.
Chelsey Schaumberg – Seymour, WI: Chelsey is a social studies teacher and mother of three. Chelsey’s oldest daughter, Zoe, was born with a congenital heart defect that required her to have open-heart surgery at five days old, the first of many surgeries Zoe will face during her lifetime. Chelsey and her husband worry that eliminating protections for patients like their daughter will jeopardize her ability to get affordable coverage. Her testimony can be found here.
Sam Bloechl – Chicago, IL: Sam is a self-employed small-business owner from Chicago. When he left his job to start his small business, he made sure he had health insurance and even worked with an insurance broker to make sure he had a better plan. What Sam did not know was that these junk plans are not covered by the ACA’s protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, which he discovered when he was diagnosed with Stage IV T-Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, an aggressive but treatable form of blood cancer. Sam now faces nearly $1 million in outstanding medical bills. His testimony can be found here.
Dr. Constance Bohon – Washington, DC: Dr. Bohon is a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist in Washington, DC. She has 35 years of experience and has dedicated her career to improving health outcomes for women. Her testimony can be found here.
Erin Price – Alexandria, VA: In 2010, Erin was 27 when she was diagnosed with Stage IIB breast cancer. She put off getting checked after finding a lump on her breast because she was covered by COBRA in between switching employers and feared that she would lose coverage if she was discovered to have a pre-existing condition. Now, Erin is cancer-free but relies on the ACA’s patient protections in order to secure insurance that will allow for ongoing care to treat the long-term side effects of her chemotherapy and radiation. Her testimony can be found here.
On Wednesday, March 7th at 4:00pm, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) will co-host a Senate Democrats hearing entitled “America Speaks Out: Protecting Our Children from Gun Violence.” The Senators will hear testimony from survivors of gun violence and family members who want Congress to take swift action to strengthen our nation’s gun laws.
Francine Wheeler, mother of Ben Wheeler, age 6, who was killed in the 2013 Sandy Hook Shooting – Since the death of her son, Francine and her husband, David, have been advocating for gun safety reforms such as universal background checks. Her testimony can be found here.
Lori Haas, mother of a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting and Virginia State Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence – Lori’s daughter Emily was one of 17 people wounded in the attack at Virginia Tech in 2007. Following her daughter’s recovery, Lori became an advocate to urge law enforcement, faith leaders, survivors, and elected officials to enact tougher gun laws. Her testimony can be found here.
Kim Bose, mother of Joseph Bose, age 20, who killed by gun violence in 2015 – Kim’s son, Joseph, was a student at Hampton University when he was shot and killed while visiting friends in 2015. Kim has since become an advocate for gun safety legislation. Her testimony can be found here.
Katrina Kickbush, a 22-year veteran teacher –Katrina is a special education teacher in Baltimore. She will discuss the emotional toll active shooter drills take on students and explain why it is not feasible to arm teachers as a way to prevent gun violence. Her testimony can be found here.
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Patty Murray (D-WA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) attended the hearing.
Tax Policy Center: “In the Middle Income Quintile … 70 Percent Would Face A Tax Increase” By 2027
AP: Congress’ Official Tax Analyst Sees 2027 Tax Boosts For Many.
Monmouth: “Americans Disapprove of the Tax Reform Plan Currently Making its Way Through Congress by a Nearly 2-to-1 Margin.”
THE GOP TAX SCAM RAISES TAXES ON MILLIONS OF AMERICANS – INCLUDING 70% OF MIDDLE INCOME AMERICANS BY 2027
Tax Policy Center: By 2027, “In The Middle Income Quintile, 24 Percent Would Receive A Tax Cut And 70 Percent Would Face A Tax Increase.” “Taxpayers in the top 1 percent of the income distribution would receive an average tax cut of 0.9 percent of after-tax income, accounting for 83 percent of the total benefit for that year. … In 2027, 25 percent of taxpayers would experience a tax cut from the included provisions, averaging about $1,500, and 53 percent would face an average tax increase of $180 (table 6). In the bottom income quintile, 11 percent would receive a tax cut and 33 percent would face a tax increase. In the middle income quintile, 24 percent would receive a tax cut and 70 percent would face a tax increase. In the top 1 percent of the income distribution, 76 percent would receive a tax cut and 24 percent would face a tax increase.” [Tax Policy Center, 12/18/17]
AP: Congress’ Official Tax Analyst Sees 2027 Tax Boosts For Many. “The Republican tax bill would mean average initial tax cuts for Americans across all income lines, but by 2027, it would boost average levies for everyone earning up to $75,000, which includes most taxpayers, Congress’ nonpartisan tax analyst estimated Monday. … In 2027, a year after most individual tax provisions expire, people making up to $75,000 would be paying more on average than under current law. The committee says around 118 million of the 177 million tax returns are from households making up to $75,000.” [AP, 12/18/17]
THE GOP TAX SCAM COULD COST MORE THAN $2 TRILLION TO FUND TAX CUTS FOR THE RICHEST FEW
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: Final Tax Bill Could End Up Costing $2.2 Trillion. “The final conference committee agreement of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) would cost $1.46 trillion under conventional scoring and over $1 trillion on a dynamic basis over ten years, leading debt to rise to between 95 percent and 98 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2027 (compared to 91 percent under current law). However, the bill also includes a number of expirations and long-delayed tax hikes meant to reduce the official cost of the bill. These expirations and delays hide $570 billion to $725 billion of potential further costs, which could ultimately increase the cost of the bill to $2.0 trillion to $2.2 trillion (before interest) on a conventional basis or roughly $1.5 trillion to $1.7 trillion on a dynamic basis over a decade. As a result, debt would rise to between 98 percent and 100 percent of GDP by 2027.” [CRFB, 12/18/17]
Center for Budget and Policy Priorities: Tax Bill’s Cost Could Hit $2.2 Trillion Over Next Decade. “The Republican tax bill is loaded with expiring provisions and delayed tax increases that help it comply with budget rules but hide its likely real cost; if policymakers down the road don’t let these provisions take effect, as leading Republicans say they prefer, the bill’s cost would be about $2.2 trillion over the first decade (2018 to 2027) — or almost 50 percent more than the Joint Committee on Taxation’s (JCT) official cost estimate of $1.5 trillion.” [CBPP, 12/18/17] Penn Wharton Budget Model: “This brief reports Penn Wharton Budget Model’s (PWBM) static and dynamic analysis of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), reported by the conference committee on December 15, 2017. The TCJA increases debt by between $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion over the next decade.” [Penn Wharton, 11/18/17]
NO WONDER THE AMERICAN PEOPLE OVERWHELMINGLY OPPOSE THE REPUBLICAN TAX SCAM
CNN Poll:55% Oppose the Republican Tax Bill. “Opposition to the bill has grown 10 points since early November, and 55% now oppose it. Just 33% say they favor the GOP's proposals to reform the nation's tax code. Two-thirds see the bill as doing more to benefit the wealthy than the middle class (66%, vs. 27% who say it'll do more to benefit the middle class) and almost four in 10 (37%) say that if the bill becomes law, their own family will be worse off. That's grown five points since early November. Just 21% say they'll be better off if the bill becomes law.” [CNN, 12/19/17]
New York Times Poll/SurveyMonkey Poll: 58% of Americans Disapprove of the Republican Tax Bill. “Republican congressional leaders say their tax overhaul would raise wages, accelerate economic growth and give middle-class families a badly needed tax cut. They are having a hard time convincing Americans of those claims… According to the survey of 5,100 adults, conducted this week for The New York Times by the online polling firm SurveyMonkey, only a third of Americans think their taxes will go down in 2018 if the bill passes next week as widely expected. … The SurveyMonkey poll, taken before the final tax bill was out, found that 58 percent of Americans disapproved of the bill, while only 37 percent supported it. An earlier version of the poll, conducted in November, found 52 percent disapproval.” ” [New York Times, 12/15/17]
Monmouth University Poll: Americans Oppose the #GOPTaxScam by a 2-to-1 margin. “Americans disapprove of the tax reform plan currently making its way through Congress by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. Half the public believe their own taxes would go up under this plan and a plurality would like to see Congress scrap the current effort and start fresh in 2018. Results of the Monmouth University Poll also indicate there are potential hurdles for selling this proposal to the American public since most feel the middle class has not been seeing any benefits from Pres. Donald Trump's policies so far. … The current proposal is significantly less popular than the landmark 1986 tax reform law. A Gallup poll taken in September 1986 when that bill was in the final stages of passage found that 39% of the public approved of the bill compared to 33% who disapproved. ‘One of the reasons the current plan may be less popular than the Reagan-era package is that the 1986 bill was seen as a good faith bipartisan effort rather than a purely partisan proposal,’ said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. … Half of the public (50%) predict that the federal taxes they pay will go up with the plan now under consideration by Congress. Just 14% say their taxes will go down.” [Monmouth University, 12/18/17]
THE REPUBLICAN TAX PLAN IS A HUGE GIVEAWAY TO THE WEALTHIEST AMERICANS AND CORPORATIONS
Duke University Law Professor Lawrence A. Zelenak: “The most striking aspect of the GOP tax proposal is the skewing of its benefits in favor of corporations and wealthy individuals, rather than middle-income families.” … “For example, while the proposal cuts the tax rate for corporations almost in half, and repeals the estate tax, the proposal actually reduces the per-child tax benefits by several hundred dollars for many middle-income families.” [Newsweek, 11/2/17]
Washington Post Wonk Blog: Winners: “Big Corporations” and “The Super-Rich.” “Big corporations. American mega-businesses would get a substantial tax reduction. The bill cuts the top rate that large corporations pay from 35 percent to 20 percent, the biggest one-time drop in the big-business tax rate ever.” … “The super-rich. The estate tax, often called the “death tax” by its critics, would go away by 2024, meaning wealthy families would be able to pass on lavish estates and trust funds to their heirs tax-free. At the moment, only estates worth over $5.49 million face the estate tax (the GOP plan doubles that amount immediately until the tax goes totally away). The mega-wealthy also would get to keep charitable deductions, a popular way to lower their tax bills, and they no longer would have to pay the alternative minimum tax (AMT), a safeguard against excessive tax dodging that's been in place since 1969.” [WaPo, 11/2/17]
National Farmers Union: “While NFU supports efforts to simplify the tax code, we adamantly oppose the overarching elements of this plan because they shift the nation’s tax burden from the top earners in our country to the backs of American family farmers, ranchers and the middle class. This plan offers significant tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. It repeals the estate tax, a significant revenue generator that affects only the wealthiest in our nation. And it does not provide adequate offsets for these cuts, translating to a $1.51 trillion increase to our federal deficit.” [Press Release, 11/2/17]
THE REPUBLICAN TAX PLAN CUTS THE PASS-THROUGH RATE TO 25% - A BOON TO THE TOP ONE PERCENT
Treasury Department Economists: “Relative To Traditional Business Income, Pass-Through Business Income Is Substantially More Concentrated Among High-Earners.” “We find that pass-through participation and pass-through income are especially concentrated among high-earners. Relative to households in the bottom half of the income distribution, households in the top-1% of the income distribution are over fifty times as likely to receive positive partnership income. And the average top-1% household earns over six-hundred times the amount of partnership income as the average household in the bottom half. Overall, 69% of pass-through income earned by individuals accrues to the top-1%.” [NBER Working Paper; Business In The United States: Who Owns It And How Much Tax Do They Pay?; October 2015]
Gene Sperling, Former Director of the Economic Council: “It is, by design, intended to the top 1 percent.” [Morning Consult, 11/2/17]
THE REPUBLICAN TAX PLAN CUTS THE CORPORATE TAX RATE TO 20% – ANOTHER GIVEAWAY TO THE WEALTHY
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “The evidence indicates that most of the benefits from a corporate rate cut would go to those at the top, with only a small share flowing to low- and moderate-income families. Mainstream estimates conclude that more than one-third of the benefit of corporate rate cuts flows to the top 1 percent of Americans, and 70 percent flows to the top fifth. Corporate rate cuts could even hurt most Americans since they must eventually be paid for with other tax increases or spending cuts.” [CBPP, 10/11/17]
Treasury Department Office of Tax Analysis: “In summary, 82% of the corporate income tax burden is distributed to capital income and 18% is distributed to labor income.” [Distributing the Corporate Income Tax: Revised U.S. Treasury Methodology, 5/17/12]
James Nunns, Tax Policy Center: “The Tax Policy Center assigns 80 percent of the corporate income tax burden to capital and only 20 percent to labor (workers’ wages and fringe benefits).” [Fact Check.Org, 9/7/17]
REPUBLICAN PLAN ELIMINATES THE ESTATE TAX – A MOVE THAT “DISPROPORTIONATELY HELPS RICH PEOPLE” ACCORDING TO TRUMP TREASURY SECRETARY STEVEN MNUCHIN
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin:
STEPHANOPOULOS: But eliminating the estate tax will only go to the wealthiest Americans, those that have estates greater than $11 million.
MNUCHIN:Well, you are correct in that sense. And, again, we've been talking about the income tax system. As it relates to estate tax, you know, the death tax, we believe that people get taxed once and not twice. And that will enable them to keep lots of family businesses passed along. But the estate tax, you are correct. The majority of the estate tax is paid by the wealthy. [ABC’s This Week, 10/1/17; VIDEO]
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin: “It’s a philosophical issue, it’s an economic issue, and people who have family businesses should be able to pass them down, but obviously, the estate tax, I will concede, disproportionately helps rich people.” [Institute of International Finance, 10/14/17]
Politifact: “In 2017, estates worth less than $5.49 million are exempt from the tax, according to the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center. Above $5.49 million, the estate is generally taxed at 40 percent. However, family-owned farms and closely-held businesses may be able to pay less or pay in low-interest installments. So how many estates are affected by the tax? Not many, and the people who pay it are usually among the country’s richest families.” [Politifact, 9/28/17]
NO WONDER THE AMERICAN PEOPLE KNOW THE REPUBLICAN TAX PLAN IS A GIVEAWAY TO THE WEALTHY
ABC News: 60 Percent Of Americans Say Trump Tax Plan Will Benefit Wealthy. “Americans oppose Donald Trump’s emerging tax plan by broad a 17-point margin, with 60 percent saying it favors the wealthy -– including six in 10 of the wealthy themselves. … A key criticism is the sense that the plan would mostly benefit the rich; 60 percent say so, versus 17 percent who think it will treat all people equally and 13 percent who think the middle class mainly will benefit. Even among those with incomes of $100,000 or more, 61 percent think the plan chiefly will benefit the wealthy.” [ABC News, 11/3/17]